Meet Kaley Mamo

By Kaley Mamo

I’m 15 years old, a Capricorn, a bookstore junkie, an obsessive TV watcher, and an attendee of the most infamous institution anyone has ever heard of: High School. I’ll be writing posts about my experiences as an introvert and my attempt to navigate life as I travel the perilous road of self-discovery.

Personality types have always intrigued me. It’s a way to understand yourself, to know how you should approach situations, and what you can do to make the clockworks of your mind whirr with satisfaction.

Embracing my introversion was not an easy path for me. But don’t get me wrong—I am not exclusively introverted as no such thing is possible. I have both introverted and extroverted tendencies. I draw energy from being alone, yet I love to make connections with people I meet. It’s just that my introversion is a little bit more prevalent than my extroversion.

I played softball from the first grade to the eighth. In addition to my not being coordinated, fast, or strong, something about the sport did not feel right. In the outfield, I would find myself checking over my shoulder and staring at the dark windshields of parked cars. I would wonder who was watching me play—maybe someone’s parents? friends? a serial killer? someone with superpowers who had come to whisk me away on my long-overdue adventure, Harry Potter-style?—until the ball was hit to me and flew over my head. (Little did I know these were my early days as a writer and lover of make-believe.)

Sitting on the bench was no better. Everyone would be running around, talking and shrieking, and I felt oddly disconnected as if the scene before me was unfurling on a movie screen—as if I wasn’t there in the moment. I would stare into space as my eyes unfocused and the outside world became a numb blur until I was jolted to my feet when the coaches called my name.

In the end, I dreaded softball games. I loved my teammates, but all the excitement and fast-paced interactions didn’t fit. The inner clockworks of my mind were not spinning. The gears were rusty as if the once shiny metal had been dulled by rain and the midnight black hands of the clock halted to a stop, mid-pulse. I didn’t feel like myself.

In the fifth grade, I joined a creative writing group called Writopia Lab. Though I kept playing softball for a few more years, I felt like I had finally found my calling when I started writing. I’m in my head a lot; sometimes I don’t say much; and usually I’m only excited by the things I love. But writing requires all of these quirks. Who could write an enticing story after spending some time in their own head, considering character arcs, cool settings, and witty dialogue first? Who could be an observer, a people-watcher, and put their quiet detective skills to good use? Who could look at an empty car in a softball game and see a serial killer or a superhero? Why, a writer of course!

I found not only the thing that made my introverted tendencies feel useful but also my people. In Writopia, if no one is talking, that means we’ve all drifted off into our own worlds, and we’re furiously penning our new novels or plays. But if everyone is shouting, that means we’re in a heated debate about which Hogwarts House we belong to (I’m between a Ravenclaw and a Slytherin), why we need feminism clubs/representation in school (do I even need to explain this?), or the newest episode of The Walking Dead (always intense, always heartbreaking).

It was an awakening to find what fit me deep down in my core, what sent adrenaline coursing through my veins, and what made my soul feel electrified. Like my friends, I had tried to find it through sports and at parties. But what makes me feel alive is thinking, creating, and talking to like-minded people, who share my love for quiet afternoons with a steaming mug of hot chocolate and a good Wes Anderson movie.

When I do what I love, I feel the rusty gears in my head churning. The screws and bolts fit together once more, and there’s a faint tick-tick-tick as the pieces settle into place. My mind awakens from a slumber that’s gone on far too long, and I come to life.